Caring: Stories of our Past

  • Caring: Stories of our Past

100 Years of Giving, Serving, Caring: A Historical Timeline

1892 – An unchartered Red Cross responds to the first local disaster relief effort, multiple shipwrecks of the coast of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County.

1917 – The United States enters World War I, and the local Red Cross chapters are officially chartered as membership explodes in order to aid in the war effort.

1918 – Worldwide epidemic of the Spanish Influenza hits California. Local Red Cross chapters open emergency facilities to support hospitals overflowing with patients.

1923 – Red Cross responds to rescue seamen off the coast of Lompoc after seven U.S. destroyers pile up in a heavy fog. This becomes this worst multiple Navy disaster in peacetime annals.

1925 – A 6.3 earthquake hits Santa Barbara, killing 13 people. Red Cross volunteers set up emergency tents in De la Guerra Plaza and serve over 12,000 cups of coffee in the first hours.

1928 – 12.4 billion gallons of water devastate Ventura County when the St. Francis dam collapses. The local Red Cross responds to help as a number of survivors are reporter as without food or clothing.

1942 – During World War II, an exhibition golf match is played between Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Johnny Weissmuller, and Johnny Dawson at the Visalia Country Club to benefit the local Red Cross chapter.

1942 – At the request of the military, the Red Cross initiates a national blood program for the Armed Forces during WWII. After the ware, the civilian blood program grows to provide more than 40% of the nation’s blood supply.

1950 – The U.S. enters the Korean War and Red Cross Home Service volunteers support 6,000 troops at Camp Cook. Additional volunteers serve troops at military installations abroad.

1952 – Red Cross responds to the 1952 Kern County earthquake, where at least 11 residents are kills and 35 injured.

1955 – The Refugio Fire burns more than 80,000 acres in the Santa Ynez Mountains, with many homes lost. Red Cross responds to provide assistance.

1961 – The Harlow Fire becomes one of the fastest burning wildfires ever recorded. The local Red Cross in Madera and Mariposa counties answer the call to help affected families.

1965 - Local Red Cross chapters handle thousands of emergency communications between servicemen and their families during the Vietnam War. International Tracing Services expands to connect war refugees to their families.

1983 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocks the town of Coalinga, injuring 94 residents and destroying or damaging thousands of homes. The local Red Cross responds to provide relief.

1990 – The Painted Cave Fire destroys over 500 homes. The local Red Cross responds to open multiple shelters and provide relief. It becomes the most destructive fire in the region’s history.

1995 – Hundreds are evacuated due to coastal flooding. Four Red Cross shelters are opened and 400 volunteers answer the call to provide food, shelter, and clothing.

2005 – The Red Cross responds to the La Conchita landslide, which destroys or damages dozens of homes and killed 10 people.

2007 – The Red Cross responds to a series of destructive wildfires form 2007 – 2009. Collectively, the Gap, Tea, Zaca, and Jesusita Fires burned more than 260,000 acres and destroyed or damaged over 300 buildings.

2008 – The Telegraph Fire burns more than 34,000 acres and threatens more than 4,000 homes. The local Red Cross responds and opens a shelter at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.

2011 – Red Cross chapters throughout the west coast open evacuation centers to support more than 2,500 people seeking refuge from the threat of the Fukushima Tsunami.

2012 – The Red Cross of the Central Valley in partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric Company launches Team Firestopper, a fire prevention program for vulnerable communities.

2014 – Local Red Cross leads relief efforts for the Courtney Fire in Madera County, which destroys more than 30 homes. Volunteers respond to provide shelter and organize a Local Assistance Center for affected residents.

2014 – The Red Cross launches the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide effort to reduce death and injuries due to home fires by 25% through the installation of free smoke alarms and fire safety education.

2016 – The Erskine Fire becomes the most damaging wildfire in Kern County history. The local Red Cross and volunteers from around the nation respond to provide shelter and comfort to hundreds.

For the last 100 years, the American Red Cross has been there for people in Central California during the moments when they needed us most. Since our local chapters were chartered in 1917, we have helped millions of people affected by local disasters including home fires, wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. From health and safety classes, to lifesaving blood collection and support of military members, their families and veterans, the Red Cross has helped make our community safer and more prepared for what may come in the next 100 years.

Your Red Cross stories of the past can be a part of our centennial celebration. Fill out the short form below to tell us your story.